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Smaller Cannabis Vape Pod Carton Brings Big Sustainability Benefits

Cannabis brand STIIIZY redesigns its vape pod packaging with 25% less material, resulting in sustainability and efficiency gains and reduced costs.

STIIIZY’s new packaging was created in-house by the company’s large team of in-house designers.
STIIIZY’s new packaging was created in-house by the company’s large team of in-house designers.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” so the saying goes. That’s why when cannabis provider STIIIZY’s cannabis pod was recognized as the best-selling brand in California and the third best-selling brand in the U.S., the company felt compelled to provide its consumers with more eco-conscious packaging.

STIIIZY, a brand of Los Angeles-based cannabis holding company Shryne Group, was “born out of authentic Los Angeles culture and a desire to provide the highest-quality cannabis products at affordable prices.” That’s according to Jackie Kim, STIIIZY’s Director of Integrated Marketing, who adds that the brand name itself is inspired by the term “steez,” style and ease. “The three ‘I’s represent ‘innovate,’ ‘inspire,’ and ‘influence,’” she adds.

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STIIIZY’s pod is part of a proprietary vape system that includes the custom-made pod filled with high-grade cannabis oil and a sleek, proprietary handheld battery into which the pods are inserted for vaping. In late 2019, the company began working on a redesign of the paperboard packaging for the pod that would use less material in order to gain cost and resource efficiencies.

The new packaging was created in-house by STIIIZY’S large team of in-house designers. Shares Kim, when recreational cannabis took off, the company had a difficult time working with third-party designers and companies, which were not yet familiar with cannabis laws, culture, and compliance. “So we built our own team, and never looked back,” she says.

The STIIIZY vape pod package BEFOREThe STIIIZY vape pod package BEFORETo set the stage, the existing packaging comprised an outer paperboard carton, with an inner tray, die-cut to hold the pod. The tray took up two-thirds of the package, on the right side of the carton, with the left side empty. Each carton was customized, with the variety name included with the logo lockup. An anti-counterfeit authentication sticker appeared on the front of the carton, but only for those products sold in California. The child-resistant mechanism was positioned on the left side of the box.

In creating the new package design, the guiding principle was to use less material. One of the biggest material savings came from right-sizing the carton so that its dimensions are the same as the tray, getting rid of the empty space on the left side of the carton. Another was eliminating a paper-insert user manual—measuring from 2.5 to 3.5 in.—and replacing it with a QR code printed on the left side of the inner tray through which consumers can easily access, by way of a smartphone, user instructions, information on product features, and disclaimers.

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“We realized things like this were a total waste of money, material, and production time,” says Kim. “By getting rid of this insert and decreasing the size of our package, we easily reduced our material use by more than 25%.

Another modification made to the package that helped make a smaller carton possible was a change in placement of the CR feature and some of the graphics. As Kim explains, the CR mechanism comprises a round die-cut in the carton that exposes the inner tray. The “button” acts as a latch. To get to the product, consumers hold down the button, while pulling a tab at the top of the package, which allows the tray to slide out.

The STIIIZY vape pod package AFTERThe STIIIZY vape pod package AFTERFor the new design, the CR feature was moved from the side panel to the back of the carton. In its place, STIIIZY positioned the tamper-evident label, which now also carries batch information. Says Kim, “Before the redesign, our packages featured both a batch and a tamper-evident function. Moving forward, our tamper-evident stickers will pull double duty. Aside from keeping the contents inside each carton safe and secure, the labels will also feature batch information, which is required by state. By combining these two, we really maximized our use of space.”

To enhance its anti-counterfeit measures and ensure consumers they are getting authentic product, STIIIZY also changed its use of the holographic sticker. Instead of being added only to those products sold in California, the sticker will be used on all packaging.

While to the casual observer, the changes in STIIIZY’s packaging may not be that noticeable, given that the graphics remain largely the same, the redesign has had a significant effect all across the STIIIZY supply chain. “In the very early days, we produced packaging in the tens of thousands of units. Today we produce millions of units,” Kim says. “Reducing the amount of packaging we use, whether an insert or a reduction in the overall size of the package, has a tremendous impact on our operations and bottom line. Our products are available in multiple states, and the total savings in aggregate across all of these state lines really adds up. It also takes less time for our teams to package our pods, we’re saving a ton of paper, and we’ve reduced our overall waste impact.” 

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